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Introduction to Research Methods

Module titleIntroduction to Research Methods
Module codePSY1206
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Cris Burgess (Lecturer)

Dr Hazel Mycroft (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will provide you with basic skills necessary to understand and conduct research in psychology. You will gain an understanding of the main scientific research methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and areas of application. You’ll get first-hand experience of participating in psychological research. You will also acquire skills in writing (scientific) reports and using library and online resources for scientific research. Finally, you will gain an understanding of ethical issues related to conducting research in psychology. This module is the basis for the rest of your psychology degree. It is also recommended for interdisciplinary degrees.

This module has an assessed Research Participation element. If you object to the Research Participation element of the module assessment you will be required to assist a researcher (staff member, post-doc or PGR) in an appropriate piece of research (e.g. assisting with participant recruitment, data collection, data analysis), requiring an equivalent time commitment (i.e. ten hours). The exact nature of this assistance will be identified by the PSY1206 module convenor, as required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the following issues:

  • the methods of scientific psychology
  • scientific reporting of empirical research
  • essay and report writing skills for psychology
  • the evaluation and critique of journal articles
  • practical and professional skills pertaining to the conduct and management of psychological research including ethical issues
  • the use of library and online resources.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Apply basic skills in experimental and survey methodologies within the context of psychology, and related issues of research design
  • 2. Illustrate first-hand experience of how psychological research is conducted
  • 3. Identify weaknesses in specific methodologies and understand the relative merits of quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • 4. Write psychology reports and essays
  • 5. Provide a critique of a journal article
  • 6. Identify the practice of psychology as an ethical science

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Acquire basic and essential factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject, and demonstrate understanding of this knowledge
  • 8. Review and evaluate published work and identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at a basic level structure this literature to present logical and coherent arguments
  • 9. Address well-defined problems systematically, think critically and creatively, and begin to appreciate the complexities of the issues at a basic level
  • 10. Understand and apply essential principles in designing research, evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using defined techniques at a basic level
  • 11. Demonstrate some awareness of ethical issues relating to the subject and its application

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Work effectively with others as a member of a group and meet obligations to others
  • 13. Work within an appropriate ethos and access and use a range of learning resources
  • 14. Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses within set criteria, and seek and make use of feedback
  • 15. Manage information, collect appropriate information from a range of sources and undertake essential study tasks under guidance
  • 16. Take responsibility for your own learning with appropriate support and communicate effectively within the format of the discipline
  • 17. Apply methods accurately and carefully to a well-defined problem and begin to appreciate the complexity of the issues
  • 18. Act with limited autonomy, under direction or supervision, and within defined guidelines
  • 19. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction
    • What is psychology?
    • How can we study it?
    • Why do we need a course on research methodology?
  • Research in psychology: objectives and ideals
    • Why do research in psychology?
    • What are our objectives?
    • What are the properties of good psychological research?
  • Writing reports and essays in psychology
  • Managing information; crimes and misdemeanours including plagiarism
  • Library skills
  • Research methods
    • The experimental method
    • The quasi-experimental method
    • The survey (or correlational) method
    • The case study method
    • Which method to use?
  • Experimental design
    • Choice of methodology and participant sample
    • Choice of independent variable
    • Choice of dependent variable
    • Threats to internal validity
    • Threats to external validity
    • Developing your critical skills
  • Survey design
    • What is a survey?
    • The differences between surveys and experiments
    • Design issues: sample selection; sample size; types of survey
  • Qualitative methods
    • Philosophical choices.
    • Practical options.
    • Common misunderstandings.
  • Research ethics
    • Science and society.
    • Participation in human research.
    • Key principles guiding ethical research with human participants in psychology
  • Conclusion: psychological research as a process of uncertainty management
  • Practical 1: writing reports and essays; citing and referencing
  • Practical 2: laboratory class addressing issues of survey design, data collection for coursework lab report
  • Practical 3: laboratory class addressing issues of validity in experimental research
  • Tutorial 1: critical analysis – how to be critical of the Method and Results section
  • Tutorial 2: revision and practice exam
  • Tutorial 3: feedback on practical report

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Tutorials (3 x 1 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Practicals (3 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study10Research participation
Guided Independent Study109Reading and preparation for practical report, web-based activities on ELE


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorials3 x 1 hourAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination451 hour1, 3, 6-7, 10-11, 15-17Generic
Practical report452000 words1, 3-5, 8-10, 13-19Individual
Research participation1010 hours2, 11-12, 19Oral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1, 3, 6-7, 10-11, 15-17August Ref/Def
Practical reportPractical report1, 3-5, 8-10, 13-19August Ref/Def
Research participationResearch participation2, 11-12, 19August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Three assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the practical report you will be required to resubmit the report. Where you have been referred/deferred in the research participation you will be individually assessed in the participation element. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Haslam, S. A., and McGarty, C. (2003). Research methods and statistics in psychology. London, UK and Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, research methods

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

PSY1205 Introduction to Statistics

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date